The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), defining an active shooter as “one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area,” recently reported that thirty such incidents occurred in the United States in 2017. This number has steadily climbed in recent years, resulting in 1,174 casualties since 2014 (313 killed, 1,082 injured).
These events take place in schools, churches, movie theatres, and shopping malls. They can and often do occur in the most common of places, with shooters tending not to discriminate based on the size or makeup of a jurisdiction. This statistic reinforces the unfortunate reality that all law enforcement agencies, no matter available resources, must be prepared to respond to these incidents. Recognizing this fact, the IACP Law Enforcement Policy Center has published an updated Model Policy, Concepts & Issues Paper, and Need to Know… document outlining suggested response protocols for these incidents.
Active shootings often last only a matter of minutes, resulting in numerous casualties in a short span of time. The reality is that waiting for specialized law enforcement resources, such as a SWAT team, to arrive is no longer possible. Instead, immediate action should be taken by law enforcement personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life, even if only a single officer is available. To aid agencies in developing policies that embrace the concept of immediate action, in conjunction with a coordinated approach with other first responders, the IACP Law Enforcement Policy Center has developed updated guidance regarding the preferred response to active shooter situations.
While Policy Center documents are usually available exclusively to IACP members and IACP Net subscribers, the IACP recognizes the need for professionally-developed and peer-reviewed direction on combating the active shooter threat and is providing these documents free of charge. Developed by a working group comprised of experts from a variety of related disciplines, agencies are encouraged to utilize these documents when developing their agencies’ response to active shooter incidents.